I sadly don't own OUaT or its characters.
GiraffePanda2 - I dunno. For me the turning point in Sarah's character was in chapter 21 when she actually tried to strike Pan; it's the first time she's willing to back up what she says with actions. Don't be sorry for reading too in-depth though, it's actually really flattering.
DieCullensDie - When you say 'bipolar' are you using the term colloquially or are you referring to the actual disorder? Also, are you saying that she's unstable throughout the entire fic or do you only mean in recent chapters? (If the latter, then of course she is, she's a reactive and not a proactive character so far). If you're unhappy with how I'm writing her, then I'd appreciate it if you could elaborate on your opinions so I can have something to go on when I make improvements, otherwise nothing is going to change.
Amelia-bella1 - Thank you! Also you brought up an important point and I'm actually going to address timelines in my author's note.
mintiness - Pan is such a butt. (Though to be fair he's also a butt in the show, so... :P)
Fanfictionwriter - I'm not mad. I do actually have a plot, it's just taken a serious back seat to my characters. Props for calling me out on it. I've managed to dig myself into this hole where my old plot structure requires more character development, and I've been re-structuring the last part of this story incessantly to try and make something work. I'm building a ladder as best as I can so please bear with me.
FireXX - Oh my god I'm always so flattered when people say they like Ben. Building a loveable secondary character is difficult (and quite frankly I'm pretty sure he can still use some work). Pan is a total ass, yeah, but I never set out to write a healthy relationship. To be honest, the Pan that I'm writing is how I imagine canon Pan would react if he got a random girl dropped in his lap. I'd change the 'Dark!Pan' label on my summary but the fandom at large has adopted a redeemable image of him so I have to keep the note in place.
To whichever one of you doesn't have an account and keeps asking me to update - While I'm flattered that you are so impatient for me to update, I'm not going to adhere to any deadlines because I don't need any additional stress. I've had a complete vat of shit emptied over my head this summer and I don't update as often as I used to because I'm trying to deal with what has become of my life in recent months. I write as much as I can, but please don't expect any kind of schedule.
Important note: This fic IS canon-compliant although it will not actually cross over into the episodes of the show. That being said, Pan is canon Pan. HOWEVER, I won't mention his backstory in any way so if you want to read this as an AU then by all means, go ahead and read this as an AU. (To those of you thinking, 'eugh he's old and creepy why is she writing this,' that's exactly why. He's crazy intelligent and mature and constantly trying to compensate for it by being unreasonably reckless. OUaT Pan is one of the most fascinating characters I've come across in many years.)
I actually took time out of my birthday today to finish this up for you guys but alas didn't make the midnight deadline so this is going up in early hours of the morning. Sorry for the huge amount of author drivel, but what can I say, I feel verbose tonight. Anyway, I hope you like this chapter!
It felt good to run. I didn't know where I was going; I just had to put as much distance as possible between Felix's accusing eyes and myself. The trees blurred again and I wiped at my eyes roughly, furious with myself for crying. Pan would probably be angry with me too - not only had I run out on him, I was also in a forbidden part of his territory. I could deal with him, though; Pan's anger had a pattern. It was Felix I was worried about. What the hell had happened to him? Where was the Felix who sat with me and gave cryptic advice on how to navigate Pan's crazy tendencies? Where was the Felix who knew how much I wanted nothing more than to be seen as a person in Pan's eyes? He knew, so why would he say the one thing that would hurt me the most?
I wanted to scream "I hate you" at the forest but I didn't have the air for it so I just kept on running. The jungle parted its scraggly fingers and breathed gloom over my face. The faint sunlight cast unfriendly shadows around me and I knew that Pan didn't like my sudden disappearance. Felix probably liked me even less though, for reasons that I just couldn't understand. What was wrong with saying a simple 'what you said to Pan hurt me'? I would have apologized, I would have! But no, Felix had to insult me back, didn't he? What a coward.
My manic sprint was beginning to slow and try as I might I couldn't sustain new bursts of speed for more than a few seconds. I let myself slow down. A faint ribbon of daylight wound along the darkened jungle canopy and I followed its falling shimmers to a crooked gap in the trees. A glittering brook ran through the forest, scrambling around rocks and branches that had tried to block its path. I stopped in front of it and swayed slightly, wondering if this was where the camp got its water supply. My breath came in jagged gasps, half from exhaustion and half from trying not to cry. I couldn't believe Felix had turned around on me like that. I should have just said, 'e tu, Brute'– not that he would have understood the reference.
I sank slowly to the dirt. I knew what I felt like. I felt betrayed.
I trusted Felix and he had used my vulnerability to hurt me the way I had always expected Pan to do. I wiped at my eyes with the heel of my hand, unable to hold back a tired sob. What was going on with me? The past few days felt like some sort of awful hurricane of anger and tears, and I couldn't even vent anything properly. I had screamed at Pan and that had helped some despite his comment about my scar, but… then Felix…
I dragged myself to the side and slumped against a large tree. Maybe I should just start treating Felix the way Pan treated me – sub-human unless he showed that he actually wanted to be seen as a person. Why did he feel the need to do every single damn thing that Pan said? What, was he tied to him or something? Did Pan save his life? I paused on the last one. Maybe Felix did owe Pan something, but why the hell wouldn't he just come out and say it? It wasn't like I was in any position to laugh at him. I threw a pebble into the water. It struck a rock and bounced to the opposite bank, missing the stream completely. Great, I couldn't even throw a stone properly.
I raked a hand through the tangles of my hair and looked around the jungle, thinking that running off had been a bad idea. Maybe if I just sat here Pan would eventually get horny enough to come looking for me. I snorted at the thought and wiped away the last of my tears. Everything was so topsy-turvy lately. I was pretty sure that the only reason I had run off was because of the stress Pan had put me through in the last couple of days. If Felix had called me a whore before I nearly got pulverized thanks to Pan, I probably would have just slapped him. I sniffled again and grimaced at the horrific sound my nose made.
Assuming Pan wasn't absolutely livid when I got back, I was going to ask him about his future evil ideas so that he wouldn't be able to spring any more crap on me. I was sick of being the fallout from Pan's grand plans. I stood up and scanned the forest for the way I had come. If he was angry… I groaned. I'd have to do some Wildfire-worthy thing then, wouldn't I? The only other option was groveling and that would set me back father than I cared to risk. I decided I shouldn't be so bitter about it, though – at least at this point I had another option, and that made Pan seem a lot less frightening. The vegetation seemed to be laughing at me as I looked stupidly between two trees, trying to decide which one seemed more familiar. I was not lost. I was just… I was going to be fine. That big boulder was way to my left when I ran here, so-
I shrieked and stumbled backwards as a black shape dove down out of the trees in front of me. I almost swore when I saw the glowing green eyes. Pan had sent his shadow after me, and now it was going to carry me over its shoulder like a sack of potatoes – and that was the best-case scenario. I steadied myself against a tree trunk and braced myself for the inevitable. The shadow slowed to a stop in front of me and hovered there, seemingly understanding that I wasn't about to run. It reached for me.
"Don't," I blurted. "I'll walk."
The shadow stopped and tilted its head at me curiously before raising its arm to gesture in the direction of the camp. I sighed and began to walk. Pan's silhouette drifted around me from time to time to correct my direction and make sure I wasn't going to run off. I had told it multiple times that I had no plans of escaping but it didn't seem to trust my words at all. It was strange that Pan didn't know that I had come to terms with living with him. That was his problem though, I thought, and probably fortunate for me. Who knew what he would try and do if he ever found out that I had no real intentions of running away?
I sighed and rubbed at my most likely puffy eyes, grateful that I at least had a guide back to camp. Pan could have left me out in the forest overnight if he wanted to, and yet it seemed like he sent his shadow only minutes after I'd run off. I hoped it wouldn't turn into Blue until I could at least see the camp. The shadow cast a glance at me again and I gave it a tired wave, refusing to think about Pan's reaction until I absolutely had to. I was going to make myself freak out if I tried to guess what he was thinking. He was a puffer fish, I decided. I could talk back to him and be as uncooperative as I wanted and he would calmly float by, but one wrong move and Pan would inflate his crazy ego and grow enormous spikes. I stifled a giggle at the image. I'd have to tell Ben about Pan's other circus act when I got back – the Puffer Fish Metamorphosis.
My feet were beginning to hurt and I briefly toyed with the idea of asking Pan's shadow to carry me the rest of the way before deciding that I might as well finish what I started. I could survive sore feet for one afternoon, right?
I cracked ten steps later. "Is the camp far?"
The shadow shook its head. I imagined it would roll its eyes if it could. It pointed to a break in the trees ahead of us and ushered me forward, seemingly eager to be rid of me.
"I'm going, I'm going," I told it. "Can't you wait two more minutes?"
The shadow crossed its arms but made no more attempts to increase my pace. I ran my fingers through my hair nervously, dreading what would happen when I walked into camp. I could see through the gap in the trees that the daylight was beginning to fade, powdering everything in a soft layer of blue. At least the evening was quiet.
I stepped into camp and immediately scanned the area for Pan. He stood off to the side and frowned at me slightly when he saw that I wasn't being carried. The shadow steered me to the secluded cluster of trees where he waited and deposited me directly in front of him before vanishing into the treetops. Pan frowned at me again. I braced myself for yelling.
"Had a nice run?" he asked coolly.
I stared at him in surprise. "What?"
"Well what else would you call your little…" he pursed his lips in distaste. "Hysterical episode?"
"Angry," I finished in confusion. I wondered if he could tell that I'd been crying.
"You've left no room for it," he snapped. "Peters, what on earth was that back there?"
"Kissing and then… not kissing?"
I tried not to fidget. "Pan."
"What," he repeated slowly, voice hardening, "was that?"
I wasn't sure how to respond. If he was angry then I could make some sarcastic remark about keeping him interested, but he wasn't. He was pissed off, yeah, but underneath that he looked almost… bewildered.
"I don't know," I said. "I kind of freaked out."
"I was rather hoping for something more informative."
I refused to tell him about Felix. "You've put me through hell these past few days, Pan. If I can't give you something more informative, then that's your own damn fault."
He sighed through his nose and I readjusted the collar of my shirt in discomfort.
"You will not run off again," Pan commanded evenly. "Do you understand me?"
I ran a hand through my hair. "Yeah."
"Peters," he said firmly.
He frowned at me for a moment before deciding that he didn't want to get involved in whatever it was that he saw in my face. Pan tapped my left shoulder pointedly as he walked by me. I sighed. Of course he had to remind me about – about my 'collar'. I grimaced. Then again, he hadn't even insulted me so technically the conversation had gone rather well. Not great, there was never any room for 'great' with Pan, but he hadn't even tried to scare me and I wasn't sporting any bruises. My face turned red in embarrassment. Considering the state I'd left him in, I'd expected much worse.
I followed Pan to the campfire where a group of boys were handing out dinner. I would go to bed early today, I decided. The world could fuck around with me some more tomorrow but right now I just wanted a few hours of peace.
I had to give the world some credit; it resisted screwing me over for a whole eight hours before giving in and having a relapse. The cosmic order needed some serious therapy. I got my quiet evening just like I'd wanted and didn't even have any run-ins with Felix this morning, but the way the camp had suddenly hushed told me that something was wrong. Stunned murmurs went through the camp as two natives walked out of the trees, avoiding the scattered and confused Lost Boys as they approached Pan. Ben and I exchanged wide-eyed glances.
Pan narrowed his eyes at the two men before confirming that they were unarmed and reclaiming his usual aloof smirk. One of the natives said something and I frowned, wondering why he looked so familiar. Pan made a show of acting like he wasn't interested before motioning for some frozen Lost Boys to go back to their duties. He beckoned Felix over but I didn't even care that the bastard was involved; I wanted to figure out why I recognized that damn native. I pulled Ben along and tried to weave my way through the camp as inconspicuously as possible to get a better look.
The native that kept nagging at my memory looked younger than the second - a cousin, maybe? Back home I would have placed him somewhere in his twenties, but knowing Neverland that number was probably far off the mark. Pan pleasantly pointed out that the two of them were in the middle of his territory and he would be well within his rights to – he studied his nails - dispose of them. The older man replied that the rest of their people knew where they were and their sudden disappearance would be immediately recognized for what it was. Pan laughed and asked if they were actually threatening him. The younger native looked uncomfortable. Where had I seen him before? I could've sworn-
My hands flew to my mouth. The cliff. I'd seen him at the cliff, before – "Oh my god."
All eyes in the camp were on me. I squeaked, knowing that despite his innocent appearance the native had been all too ready to murder me a week ago. Had it been just a week? Ben steadied me.
"That's-" I managed. "He's-"
Were these men here to kill me?
Ben froze in shock. "No way."
The older native looked me up and down. "So it is true," he said to Pan. "You're keeping a woman."
I wanted to protest that nobody was keeping me anywhere, except that it was true.
Pan shrugged, collecting himself and erasing his displeased expression from when I'd spoken. "A little variety never hurts," he said easily.
'Variety'? I was not 'variety.' I was 'look at my new dressed up poodle, I've taught it some tricks!'
Pan's mouth quirked upwards at the corners as he caught my expression. "Perhaps we should have this discussion elsewhere," he said to the newcomers. "Felix."
The four disappeared into the jungle.
I slowly turned to look at Ben in horror.
"They're probably just here because Pan's shadow killed one of them," he reassured me.
I raised my eyebrows in astonishment at his response.
Ben's eyes widened. "Oh."
"Pan wouldn't let that happen."
"You don't know that."
I started after them.
Ben pulled me back. "What are you doing? You'll just make him mad!"
"He'll only be mad if he sees me," I muttered, shaking Ben off. "I'm not gonna sit around panicking only to find out they've been discussing daisies."
He shook his head. "This is a bad idea."
I took a deep breath. "Pan likes my bad ideas."
"If they kill me, bury me with orange lilies." I darted into the forest.
Pan had led them off farther than I'd expected. If I hadn't been paying so much paranoid attention to where exactly they were going, I probably never would have found them in the first place. I ducked down behind a leafy bush barely close enough to hear what they were saying. I didn't dare risk coming any closer. They seemed to be in some kind of argument about the nature of the island until the younger native interrupted his elder.
"You have no right to kill us!"
Pan tilted his head in thought. "Don't I?"
I felt sick to my stomach.
The native pulled his companion back. "We ask that you control your shadow," he said. "We have done nothing to you."
"Quite a good point," Pan said, nodding, "except I do control it. It obeys me very well."
My mouth nearly fell open. The Guinness Book of World Records had to get over here pronto; I'd found the record holder for Most Arrogant Ass. I frowned at Felix as he cast a glance over the jungle. He was a dick, yeah, but that didn't make him any less intelligent. Why was he letting Pan just prance around like this? Felix looked at something right above my head and I ducked down behind the bush, peering through the leaves and hoping that my blond hair didn't give me away in the dark of the forest. I shouldn't have moved at all; Felix's eyes widened slightly as they found mine. I flipped him off through the foliage and he exhaled tightly before turning back to the natives. He didn't say anything to Pan.
"Then at least keep her off our land," the oldest native told Pan stiffly.
I froze. They weren't trying to murder me in exchange for one of their own?
"Nice to see we agree on something," Pan said, then sighed as if such conversations were a casual daily occurrence. "Sometimes they never learn. You may go."
"You cost us one of ours," the native said.
I felt myself go pale. They weren't going to take one of the boys, were they?
Pan exchanged a glance with Felix. "I'm afraid I just don't have any more traitors in my camp for you," he shrugged. "The last one set quite a nice example."
I squeaked in horror and immediately clapped my hands over my mouth. Pan's surprised eyes locked on mine and I saw his back stiffen in anger. His hand twitched and I shrank into the bushes.
"We ask that you grant us access to the spring," the older native said, mercifully oblivious to my presence. "Many of our people need medicine."
I frowned in confusion. That's why they were here? But wasn't the younger one furious with me for his friend's death?
"Medicine?" Pan sneered. "Perhaps your people need to realize there are places they should not be."
I bit my lip. Coming here had been a bad idea, he was definitely angry with me.
"No," Pan said sharply. Felix looked like he was restraining himself from intervening. "Go before I show you what happens to trespassers."
I watched with wide eyes as the older native pulled the younger one after him, his jaw clenched and mouth in a thin line. Felix walked by me to the camp and I was stuck staring fearfully at Pan through a bush, wondering just how many lives my eavesdropping had cost. No. The natives had lived on this island for centuries, they knew how to take care of themselves. They would be fine, right?
Pan strode towards me, eyes blazing. I scrambled to my feet out of instinct and looked around helplessly. He grabbed my left shoulder roughly to back me against a tree and I tried not to think about what had just happened as I stared at him.
"You seem to do nothing but disobey me, don't you?" He hissed. "They could have seen you."
"They know I exist," I blurted stupidly, taken aback.
Pan composed himself with effort. "They don't know you're harmless."
My eyes widened. The last thing anyone needed was the WT thinking that Pan felt threatened enough to have backup.
"There it is," he said. Pan pushed himself away from me but kept his hand on my shoulder, palm pressed over my scar.
"I thought they wanted to kill me," I said finally, trying to fill the tense silence.
He chuckled in cold amusement. "They would have had quite an adventure trying to do that, I'm sure."
My eyebrows furrowed. But… Did that mean that he wouldn't have let them?
Pan seemed to have realized what he said because his lip curled in a sneer. "You're so careless it's a wonder you're still alive."
I tilted my chin up at him in a burst of annoyance. "Maybe I'm not as careless as you think."
The ice behind Pan's eyes melted into unsteady astonishment. He dropped his hand. We looked at each other for a long time as I waited for him to say something.
Pan kept his eyes on mine as he stepped away. "Go, Wildfire. Don't leave camp again."
Neverland was eerily quiet the following day. I only caught the occasional glimpse of Pan as he brooded around the campsite. I even thought about asking him if this had to do with the natives, but something about the way he looked at me stopped me short. Pan readjusted the leather cuffs on his wrists and furrowed his brow as though he was trying to perform some kind of telepathy on me. I gave him a confused wave and watched in interest as his frown deepened.
Ben nudged me. "You know he's been doing that all day, right?"
"Oh yeah," I said. " I know. I think I may have made him paranoid."
"Maybe he's just worried about what you heard," Ben offered.
I bit my lip, casting another sidelong glance at Pan. "Actually I think he's more worried about what I said."
"The carelessness thing?"
"Well," Ben shrugged, "staring at you isn't going to help him."
I shook my head with a grin. "I don't think anything will help him. I made that line up on the spot."
"His list of acts is pretty big now," Ben mused, ticking them off on his fingers. "Eyebrow Escape, Puffer Fish Metamorphosis, Telepathy…"
"He needs to just focus on one thing," I said. "Hone a skill."
Ben nodded sagely. "We should tell him."
I shoved him. "And turn him into a puffer fish? I don't think we're quite ready for that."
"You shouldn't be one either, you know."
"What?" I blinked. "How?"
"Sar, I'm going to quote you for a minute." Ben looked me in the eyes. "What the fuck is going on?"
I stared at him. "Excuse me?"
"You and Felix," he said slowly. "I don't know what happened, but you two are as bad as Pan having a fight with himself." He shook his head. "It's giving me a headache."
I rolled my eyes. "He's a dick, Ben, that's all there is to it."
"Felix or Pan?"
"Both," I said. "They're two halves of the same dick."
"Never," Ben grimaced, "ever say that again."
"Yeah, that went a bit bad. But Felix is a backstabbing moron, alright? I don't want anything to do with him anymore."
"Do what you think is best for you," Ben said supportively before pursing his lips in a very Pan-like manner. "But please, talk to him so the rest of us can stop being terrified whenever you two catch sight of each other."
"No," he said firmly. "It's bad for both of you. Go work it out."
"Like hell, he's the one that owes me an apology!"
Ben rolled his eyes. "Fine, be a baby." He frowned at me for a moment before standing up. "I want to show you something though, come on."
"Just come with me."
I followed him to the cliff, not sure what could possibly warrant such a need for privacy.
"Wait here," he told me. "I'll be right back."
Ben darted off and I leaned against my favorite maple, wondering if our problems with the natives would ever be over and done with. On a certain level I doubted they ever would be since we all happened to share an island ruled by an elf with tempter tantrums, but a non-murderous relationship would certainly be nice. Two pairs of footsteps approached me before one of them stopped and I heard Felix's voice say a resounding "no." I watched with sinking dread as Ben hauled Felix over to me.
"If you two don't work it out by dinnertime," Ben said, "then I'm gonna…" he trailed off.
Felix raised his eyebrows. "You'll what?"
"Then I'm telling Pan you're in love with each other," he said resolutely and gave me a pointed look.
Ben left and Felix and I exchanged equally pained glances. I was mad at him and he was mad at me, and depending on how the next ten minutes went we stood a good chance of being mad at Ben as well.
I wanted to avoid this as much as I had wanted to avoid Pan on my first days on Neverland. "Why is it that the innocent ones are always dangerous?"
Felix didn't respond. He probably thought he was too above Pan's whore to even talk to me, didn't he? I pursed my lips and turned to stare out at the horizon.
"You shouldn't have followed us yesterday."
"Pan already gave me that lecture, thanks," I said sourly. "How could – how could you just stand there and let him deny them access to the spring?"
"You said it yourself, I'm only here to kiss his boots."
"I'm serious, Felix. People could die…" I shook my head derisively. "You have no reason to listen to Pan's whore though, don't you?"
He didn't say anything.
"You know what?" I laughed. "I trusted you, and you just… Ben's going to turn on me too, isn't he? Should I just expect that now?"
"If you call him a servant, yes."
"Thanks man." I cast him a weary glance. "Look, I think I'm just gonna be the bigger person here and start this whether you like it or not. I have a bad feeling that Ben might actually go through with his threat and I for one have no intention of dying."
"I wasn't aware you were prepared to apologize."
"Apologize? Apologize? I tried to apologize and you went and called me a whore!"
Felix clenched his jaw. I glared at him.
"I don't understand you anymore," I said. "You keep telling me to take care of myself and when I do, suddenly I'm the bad guy."
Felix readjusted his cloak in discomfort. "I'd wrongfully assumed you thought better of me."
"You know that I do."
"Fuck's sake you moron, I'm telling you I tried to apologize!" I stared at him in a mix of annoyance and incredulity. He was being a stubborn imbecile. "That's what you do when you realize you hurt a friend's feelings. Except when that friend then stabs you in the back and says that the only thing you're good for is bending over, you kind of start to question if that friendship is a real thing."
"Don't you dare."
He schooled his expression into chilly politesse. "I don't appreciate being used."
I gaped at him. "Used? Felix, you saw how I was. Are you honestly telling me I had the energy to even think about using someone?"
He pulled roughly at his sleeve. Ah, I thought. We were getting somewhere.
Felix looked like he'd swallowed a lemon and I was about to tell him to spit out whatever he was going to say when he blurted, "What you said to Peter hurt, is that what you wanted to hear?"
"Yes," I said in exasperation, watching the tension drain from the air. "Why couldn't you just say that and let me apologize, Mr Manly Man? Jesus Christ."
Felix was still rigid.
"Look," I sighed and ran a hand from my hair. "I owe you an apology, we've long since established that. But you owe me one too. This is a two-way street here." He didn't say anything so I looked at him pointedly and said, "I'm sorry for calling you a servant, I was trying to get it through Pan's head that I'm not loyal, and I exaggerated. You're probably more intelligent than he is by a mile."
Felix pursed his lips as he looked at me but nodded. I waited.
I threw my hands up. "Seriously?"
That was it. He wasn't worth my time. I shoved myself away from the maple to stalk past him.
I whirled on him. "Oh no you don't! If you're not willing to apologize, then I'm not willing to ever give you any of my time."
He sighed through his nose. "I understand emotion in theory, not in practice."
I forced myself to be patient. "Yeah? Then give me your theory."
Felix looked out past me for a moment before saying, "I was angry, both with you and with myself because I'd thought that you could survive on this island uncorrupted."
I watched him carefully. "And?"
"I was right. Neverland hasn't touched you yet." He sighed. "I apologize for assuming the worst in you."
I shook my head. "Apology accepted but… No more being the Manly Man, alright? Pan does that enough for the entire island. If I say something again, just tell me."
He still looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"Your theory is fine in practice, stop looking like you want to hide." I rolled my eyes and pulled him after me. "Come on, let's go tell Ben that Pan doesn't have to worry about any blond love affairs."
Two sentences into explaining our talk to Ben and I was sure that I'd misused the term 'Blond Love Affair.' It didn't actually mean Felix and I, I realized as Ben grinned at us and pulled us down to sit next to him, it referred to all three of us. It almost made me wish that I also had blue eyes so it could be the Blond and Blue Eyed Love Affair.
I'd wanted to interrogate Felix about the situation with the natives but could only ask so many questions because Pan still hadn't ceased his suspicious staring. I waited impatiently as Sunshine finished his lecture on why no, the natives weren't going to be attacking camp and yes, the lake was still perfectly safe.
"Is Pan feeling okay?"
"You're asking," Felix said slowly, "about Peter's wellbeing?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, you didn't miss some crazy love story. He's just been staring at me like that all day, it's weirding me out."
"Tell him to tame his eyebrows first," Ben added helpfully. "Then he can work on telepathy."
I watched the last rays of sunlight sink below the horizon. Felix said I should be careful. Pan leaned against a tree by the campfire, directly between my tent and where I was sitting. If he was trying to intimidate me, it wasn't working.
I stood up, wanting to see if Pan would crack and let slip why he was being so annoyingly conspicuous. "I dunno about you two, but I'm gonna go sleep."
"You say that," Ben said, "but you're looking at Pan."
"He's in the way. Calm down Ben, I'm not thinking of bedroom things."
"Stop teasing me about that, you clam!"
Felix frowned. "Clam?"
I groaned. "Calm clam, it's what you missed. Ben can fill you in."
I left them sitting in the darkness and marched towards the campfire, acting like Pan's incessant surveillance didn't bother me at all. The more confused he felt, the more I got out of my evening.
I patted him on the shoulder as I walked by. "You're not telepathic, Pan. Please stop trying."
Predictably, he followed me. "I don't need to be telepathic."
"Should I assume that you've developed the ability to look past your ego and have simply been astounded by my beauty?"
Pan rolled his eyes. "Will you even listen if I say anything to the contrary?"
I stopped in front of my tent. "Mm, no. Good night, Pan."
He pulled me back by the waist. "I don't think so."
"You never think so."
I considered how to make him tell me why he'd been staring. It wasn't jealousy – Felix and I had still been angry at each other when this had started. Judging from the way Pan was holding me to him he wasn't mad at me, either.
"If you're insisting on cuddling me," I said after a while, "can we at least do this lying down? I want to sleep."
Pan let go of me immediately. I allowed myself an amused grin and tried to duck into my tent a second time.
"No more eavesdropping on me, Wildfire," Pan said.
I sighed and turned around to frown at him. Pan didn't seem reprimanding; if anything, he looked just as calculatingly confused as I felt.
"I won't eavesdrop if I don't have cause for eavesdropping," I said just to watch his reaction.
He narrowed his eyes at me suspiciously. "Then I guess it's good that nothing here presents any cause."
I studied his too-relaxed posture. "I gotta say I expected more yelling. Maybe some threats."
Pan rolled his eyes again. "I take good care of what is mine, Wildfire."
'Good care'? What the hell was he playing at?
"Really? Cause you do a pretty damn bad job at showing it."
His hands settled on my waist and he smirked suggestively. "I'm prepared to do a really good job tonight."
I was so surprised that my face turned red.
Pan smirked and leaned down. "Don't say you don't want it, I can see your blush."
"Is this going to make you stop watching my every move?" I asked, leaning away from him just enough to be able to speak.
One of his hands came up to tug at my shirt collar and expose part of my left shoulder. He traced the visible part of my scar with a fingertip.
"Come with me."
I let him pull me along. I deserved a nice mattress after the madness of the past few days.
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Moral protests? Crepe recipes?